Monday, June 9, 2008

Well, this past weekend I loaded up the car, hitched up the Rocket, and headed south to the fabulous San Francisco bay to compete in the famous Delta Ditch run. This is one of those competitions that was conceived over a few too many rum and cokes as a sort of “dare to do this” event. The idea is to launch the boat in Richmond and then drive the trailer an hour and a half east to Stockton. Spend the night, and then take a chartered bus back to Richmond in the morning. The race starts just off the breakwater from the Richmond Yacht Club, and then heads north (downwind) into San Pablo bay. At the north end of the bay, the race turns east (also downwind) up the Sacramento River, and then up into the delta of the very narrow San Joaquin River. Total length of the race is 67 miles or so to the Stockton Sailing Club, give or take about 300 jibes -- that extends the race another several miles. Except for one short reaching leg, you basically put up the chute for 8-10 hours, and enjoy the ride and flat water.

We left Seattle where it was raining and in the 50’s. and by the time we got to Richmond it was in the upper 80’s, no clouds to be seen, and it felt like someone had turned on a overheat heat lamp! We started in the second wave with ten Melges 24s, a few Mumm 30s, Cheetah 30s, and other light, downwind roadsters. During the first leg up to Benicia Bridge it was fairly light, and we managed to be ahead of just about everyone in our start except one Melges. Entering the delta, the wind started to come up, and the river began to get narrow. Doing jibe after jibe, we started to lose distance to more polished crews and boats flying symmetrical chutes.

We had a few rookie mistakes and equipment issues, but we managed to stay out of the mud and away from other hazards (there was some major carnage out there). It was a fun race and an event not to miss in one’s sailing career. Have a look the following YouTube videos for a few scenes from the start of the race. Sorry we were too tired at the end of day to pull out the camera for the finish.
Also go to Peter Lyons site for some great photos of the event.

Big thanks to Sandra for crewing in the race and helping drive the 1750 miles down and back. And also to Alan for coming down to the bay to make my boat go fast.